In Short

This was the year the Nexus phone got beautiful and affordable at the same time

Named appropriately to its generation, Google released the fourth Nexus device as the Nexus 4. Like the three previous Nexus devices the Nexus 4 was created in conjunction with a manufacturer partner, and this time it was LG's turn. Though the decision to go with LG wasn't universally loved prior to release, the Nexus 4 turned out to be one of the best-built and well-designed Nexuses to date, and it was no surprise that LG was selected again to make the Nexus 5 a year later.

The Nexus 4 packed a 4.7-inch 768 x 1280 display with brilliantly-curved glass on the front and another sheet of glass on the back, which used a similar shimmering reflective pattern that LG first used on the Optimus G. It ran on a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM, rounding out specs that weren't industry-leading, but were far above what was acceptable, particularly at the price Google set the Nexus 4 at. The Nexus 4 launched alongside Android 4.2, which brought some refinement to the platform and a few new features such as Photosphere and lockscreen widgets but wasn't as dramatic of a change as we saw with the Galaxy Nexus unveiling Ice Cream Sandwich.

Google used the Nexus 4 as a jumping-off point for selling phones directly to consumers in a real way, making previous efforts look poor in comparison. Google sold the Nexus 4 directly through Google Play for just $299 (8GB) or $349 (16GB) unlocked — a price that was generally unheard of for such an advanced device. Unfortunately the launch was scarred by terrible issues with the Play Store ordering system, and it took a couple of months for Google to iron things out and have the Nexus 4 regularly available for anyone who wanted one. In August 2013 Google cut $100 off the price of the Nexus 4 to rid its store of extra inventory before the Nexus 5 launched.

Like previous Nexus phones, the Nexus 4 brought in a new feature that Google wanted Android manufacturers to use, and in 2012 that was Qi wireless charging. The Nexus 4 used Qi after the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 (2013) both used pogo pin docks for wireless charging, and Google eventually released a first-party Charging Orb accessory in January 2013 that was meant to be used with the Nexus 4. The charger didn't have the best design ever, and was replaced only a handful of months later with a new model. Qi charging stuck around as the charging standard of choice on the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013), although fewer manufacturers have used it in non-Nexus phones than Google likely would have hoped.